He made the trains run on time and controlled the Unions

image - October 23, 2003

Fascism is recognized to have first been officially developed by Benito Mussolini, who came to power in Italy in 1922. To sum up fascism in one word would be to say "anti-liberalism".

...............Socialism and Democracy. Political doctrines pass; peoples remain. It is to be expected that this century may be that of authority, a century of the "Right," a Fascist century."

Image Source Page: http://marxistleninist.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/glenn-beck-champions-u-s-pro-nazi-text/

Monday, June 30, 2008

Will the Employee Free Choice Act be "fair"?

Thanks for the cartoon to Mike Konopacki. Please check out his work at this site.

First, we have to define a fair election.

Does the current process guarantee a fair election, and if I decide to vote for a Union in the privace of my own home should I be denied the right?

In any other free election in this country all sides are allowed access to the voter rolls so they can reach out with their message. The NLRB gives "free and fair" the same meaning as Fox news gives to "Fair and Balanced" Employers are supposed to provide employee lists to Union organizers but over and over delaying tactics are used that prevent a Union from reaching the employees with their side of the story While the process goes on, the Em[ployer plasters the work place with anti-Union messages and forces employees to attend one sided anti-Union meetings.

Under current labor law an election will be held when workers petition for union representation with at least 30 percent support. After receiving a petition the NLRB will set a date for a secret ballot vote. Almost sounds like Democracy.

This is where the deck is stacked. No political campaign for animal control officer would be allowed if it were as one sided as the NLRB rules.

In an NLRB election there is no true free speech; no equal access to the voters, no equal ability to reach the voters with materials or information.

Candidates for dog catcher are guaranteed access to the voter rolls, but in an NLRB election management can delay giving out that information until the election is almost over and the penalties for delaying are nearly non-existent.

On average, unions don’t get the voter list until less than 20 days before an election. Suppose the Democrats or the Republicans tried to pass a law that said that the other side could not have access to the voter lists until three weeks before an election. Is that anyone’s idea of a “free and fair” election?”

I look around at Americans and at my fellow Mainers. I don’t see a bunch of wimps that will vote “Union Yes” just because one of their co-workers comes over to talk to them. Try to force your neighbor to do what you want in Maine you will get kicked so hard your butt will still be sore when you roll over the Massachusetts border.

The anti-Union forces know that given a free choice most people have nothing against better pay and benefits.

Hit em in the wallet. Threaten their kids.

In political elections it is illegal for corporations to tell employees that if the Republicans or the Democrats win their company will close.

In a “fairly run” NLRB election these tactics are completely legal, while at the same time the employer can deny access to the employees by the Union organizers.

In the U.S. we know how to have a fair election.

Election law demands that newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations sell ad time on the same terms to all candidates and provide equal access.

The NLRB does nothing to allow employees to hear both sides. Management can cover every hall bathroom stall, and cube with anti-Union propaganda and ban pro-union employees from the same actions (we don’t need no stinking free speech). The employer is free to campaign against Unions in any way, all day, in the workplace. Pro Union workers are banned from talking about unionization except on break times.

Don’t blame the employer for legal actions.

In America and we have a fierce tradition of competition and Pro-Union employees and anti-Union management can not be faulted for using every legal tactic at their command.

The lack of enforcement or penalties for illegal action by the employer has fostered a level of illegal activity on the side of management that would make a third world dictator proud.

The EFCA demands that over 50% of employees must vote to join a Union for the vote to be honored and a Union recognized.

The EFCA would force an arbitration process if a contract can not be reached within a reasonable time because 32% of employees don’t have a signed collective bargaining agreement one year after voting for union representation. Denying a contract is another method of trying to destroy Unions and the laws in place are useless and rarely used.

22,633 employees fired as part of the free and fair discussion.

The 1993-2003 NLRB Annual Reports, show an average of 22,633 workers per year were ordered to receive back pay from their employers. No retroactive benefits, no other financial penalties for possibly destroying an employee causing the loss of a home savings and family.

91% of employers force employees to attend anti-union meetings with their supervisors during union organizing drives.

There is nothing illegal about an employer holding meetings with employees about matters that could affect working conditions. The employer is paying for their time, at meetings, or at their desk.

Does the current law protect employees from coercion or threats? Check the statistic above. 22,633 workers fired each year for Pro Union activity.

Up to 51% of employers illegally coerce workers into opposing unions with cash promotions or favors during union organizing drives.

There are no serious penalties for employers engaging in these illegal actions. The penalties are so small they are just considered a cost of doing (crooked) business.

30% of employers illegally fired pro-union workers during union organizing drives.

The response by the right is that this means that yes, charges were filed and back pay was received, but since they didn’t admit to anything it doesn’t mean anything. How many employees needed to jump at the back pay for mortgage payments, or medical bills? How many had gotten desperate enough to settle? Desperation is the goal of the employer and there are no penalties or to discourage it. The employee on the other hand will get back pay only. No financial payback for lost benefits or even a lost home.

How much can the NLRB hurt an employer for bribing threatening assaulting or firing a pro-Union employee?

Not one penny, nada, zilch, nothing, the employer is holding up one finger, but it does not mean one dollar.

National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. The NLRB does not have the authority to impose fines, revoke licenses, or impose prison time on those who violate the National Labor Relations Act.

If serious financial penalties for employers were in place with criminal penalties in place for management that violated even the puny laws in place now there might be an argument to leave things alone. The E.F.C.A. is the simplest change that can be made to level the playing field. What we have now is neither Fair or Balanced.

For other references to prove the facts above see:


By Chirag Mehta and Nik Theodore, Center for Urban Economic Development, UniversityIllinois at Chicago

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Why should we try to help Non Union Workers?

This was inspired by a link sent to me by Jack McKay of the Central Labor Council. The original post was about New York but I have been asked many times why the MSEA should organize outside of State Government and even help outside of Maine.

There are a few employees with relatively good jobs belonging to Unions and a lot more with jobs that don’t pay enough and carry few if any benefits.

If Union workers want to help themselves they should think about helping others The same tune that Andy Stern of the SEIU has been putting out for years (Editor) I like to say “We need to turn them into us”

The few good Union jobs compared to the poor non-union jobs is a common condition in New York, Michigan, and Maine. We have to try through education, organizing and political action to raise the wages of dishwashers, wait staff, Wal-Mart workers and all of the other poorly paid employees.

We have worked to get to a comparatively good level of wages and benefits with time off and pensions.

The trouble with these gains is that they make us targets for blame from the right They are trying to avoid the blame for greed and failed policies. It is not even so much the arguement between Republicans and Democrats but the argument between the political influence of millionaires and billionaires against the Wal-Mart cashier and the McDonald's burger flipper.

I remember being a truck driver in the 70's in a small shop. I called the Teamsters and was told to take a hike. They only wanted big wins.

Even now, union movements are seen as less interested in organizing and helping low wage employees, but the SEIU sees a different path. In Maine we have already made the first steps and organized thousands of new members.

Now we have to take the next steps and work and spend our dues monies not only to gain good contracts for us, but to help those new members gain a living wage and benefits. MSEA-SEIU Local 771 got it’s name from it’s hourly wage, and is still fighting for the right to buy healthcare as a group.

Most of our new members get no paid vacation or sick days. The wing press is running TV and print ads asking why State workers get benefits the public doesn’t get and will never see without our help.

I have friends that won’t see two paid weeks off until five years of employment and must use vacation days as sick days.

The ads recently run on WLBZ and other channels are slanted to make it seem that Union benefits and wages are coming at the expense of the poorly paid employee.

The under tone of the ads is to make the public say “Why should you have sick days when I don’t have any?”

Unasked is "Why shouldn't every employee have the right to earn sick time and a pension?" Before the long destruction of Unions started by Saint Ronnie the public had more chances for good jobs and a pension was still thought of as part of a job.

After several administrations have used the National Labor Relations Board as a tool to destroy Unions and workers rights the few that have kept some of their gains have become the focus of right to work campaign. We set an example of good jobs that they don't want to be compared to.

The SEIU sees this problem and is working to help the low-wage nonunion workers to organize and to help pass new labor law to improve the conditions for all employees. We are fighting misdirection. The Union Busters are saying that the Unions are doing well at the expense of everyone else and that the cure is to take away the Union wages and benefits. In Maine they spread lies about benefits we don't have and wages we don't earn.

The real cure is to help more workers gain security and respect for the work they do.

The solution is for us to work to get those benefits to all employees. A well paid employee will work harder, spend and make the economy stronger. A well paid employee can educate their children and the country benefits. A well paid employee will not vote to take your benefits away out of anger and frustration at an uncaring employer.

It is the right thing to help other employees get ahead, but it is also the necessary thing to do to protect ourselves. When we are bargaining contracts there is always the claim that “We can’t give you what the public doesn’t have” They tell us every contract that to keep some of what we have we have we will have to give up a little more every time.

For years now our wages have fallen behind inflation every year We are actually making less than fifteen years ago. Benefits and wages have been cut successively for nearly sixteen years. These are facts that are not made public. Did you know that most of the public thinks State employees get an automatic cost of living raise every year on top of any negotiated raises? They think we get free life insurance and pay nothing for family medical care. Many think we pay nothing for prescriptions.

After the first successful attack on State Employee health care whetted the appetite of the legislature they came back again, taking thirty million dollars and causing probable higher deductibles and decreased benefits. Does anyone think the legislature will say "enough?"

Don't look behind the curtain at the top 1% of the country owning nearly 40% of all the wealth in the country It is a lot easier to blame a Union worker than a faceless CEO. It won’t be as easy to blame a Union worker if that brother or sister has helped someone to get enough money to feed their family or to get health care to care for their children. Let's work to turn "them" into us.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Employee Free Choice Act

The right says we are trying to do away with the right to a secret ballot. The truth is that labor wants the right to have a ballot free from illegal influence and threats.

I want to extend a thank you to Mike Konopacki for permission to use his work. He is a true friend of labor.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rod Hiltz, New Chief Negotiator

Click to enlarge this post, unless you have very, very, good eyes.
I will be taking down all surveys and bargaining proposals on this site with the idea that from now on these ideas should only be discussed by Union Members and for Union members. The State can spend the next few months working on their own ideas, not reading ours.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm from the I.R.S. and I am here to help you, No really.

When the IRS raises the deductible for

mileage, you know things are bad.

I.R.S. says gas is getting expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service raises the mileage rate that can be claimed on your (business) taxes.

The I.R.S. is changing the rate used to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents immediately and for the last six months of 2008.

"Rising gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. (Ya think?) "Given the increase in prices, the IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the real cost of operating an automobile."

This is an indicator of the urgency of the action as the IRS usually updates the mileage rates only in the fall for the next calendar year.

Last week Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota sent a letter to Shulman urging him to increase the rate. Don’t give the R too much credit, remember, this will affect businesses not employees.

State Employees have been forced to drive their own vehicles for far less than the cost of maintenance and fuel for far too long. This has been ofter topped off with delayed expense reimbursement due to agencies that pay employees last. In 2007 a number of employees went six or more weeks without reimbursement while driving hundreds of miles a week.

P.S. The State of Maine is still at forty cents, which is ONLY 18.5 cents below what even the I.R.S. thinks is minimally needed to run a vehicle.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Two State Employees stop a Child abuser

Sgt. Glen Lang and Dawn Ego of the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit

have tracked down one of the worst child abusers possible.

Next time someone says that State Employees don't do anything point them to this link.

You must watch the video. They took down a bad one.

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Bargaining Committee Meeting June 21 CLICK FOR FULL SIZE IMAGE

Maybe I am doing too much of this, but I got a call from a member of OIT asking for directions to the Calument club for the bargaining committee meeting. She was interested in herself, her co-workers and her family. Here is the update. Just click on the image for full size.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Don't be afraid of the CAT

This is a guest post from Nan Worcester at DDPC. WE don't all have to march and rally but if you are not afraid of what is coming look around. You can become a part of a Contract Action Team just by talking to your co-workers and asking them what is important. Do they know any way the State can save money or be more efficient. The first bargaining committee meeting will be held on June 21 and you can still sign up. Call the Union and ask how.

Here's Nan

Uh oh! Looks like someone in the legislature caught up with me! I thought all I had to worry about was the CAT, but I guess not!

Sad to say, we’ve got some great folks working to improve our benefits…or even just KEEP what we have, but aren’t getting much support. I realize that a lot of you might be like me…rather keep to the background for fear of the cat OR the legislature but there ARE ways you can support your representatives. Telephones, e-mails (from home), letters to your legislature, newspapers, etc.

We need to bait the trap better to make people in this state realize that we aren’t just TAKING from the state but that we provide real and useful services to the people of Maine in order to better all our lives. We need to make our governing body realize that ‘dumbing down’ state employees and their benefits that they’ve worked hard to earn, to make us match up with companies like Wal Mart, where most of their employees are on Maine Care because they aren’t provided decent benefits, is NOT the way to go. Our legislators, both state and federal should be encouraging businesses to provide wages and benefits sufficient for families to live on, not taking away these earned benefits from state employees.

Yes, times are tough…fuel costs, food, utilities, etc., are ALL rising, for all of us (state employees included). It’s sad when writing like this it’s necessary to say ‘state employees included’ all the time, as though we aren’t living, breathing, taxpayers of Maine! Contact your union representative, see how you can help…if you’re a ‘shy mouse’ like me, there are ‘quiet’ ways that you can help. Our Union agreed to early bargaining to help us get a slice of the pie before the legislature apportions it all away and there is nothing left for us except cuts…in our health insurance, no cost-of-living increase, maybe shut-down or furlough days again, but definitely nothing to benefit state employees.

So, before you get caught by one of your legislators who think you earn too much or your benefits are too good (remember, THEY get them too!) do whatever you can to help yourself and other state employees.

Hector, the mouse… !

In Solidarity!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

I.R.S. thinks the State of Maine is too cheap

When the IRS raises the deductible for mileage, you know things are bad, or I'm from the government and I am here to help you.

I.R.S. says gas is getting expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service raises the mileage rate that can be claimed on your (business) taxes.

The I.R.S. is changing the rate used to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents immediately and for the last six months of 2008.

"Rising gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. (Ya think?) "Given the increase in prices, the IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the real cost of operating an automobile."

This is an indicator of the urgency of the action as the IRS usually updates the mileage rates only in the fall for the next calendar year.

Last week Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota sent a letter to Shulman urging him to increase the rate. Don’t give the R too much credit, remember, this will affect businesses not employees.

State Employees have been forced to drive their own vehicles for far less than the cost of maintenance and fuel for far too long. This has been ofter topped off with delayed expense reimbursement due to agencies that pay employees last. In 2007 a number of employees went six or more weeks without reimbursement while driving hundreds of miles a week.

This can not go on.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

OIT, Pro-Tech, Anyone give a damn?

I owe you guys. Twice you sent me to negotiate contracts for Pro-Tech with the State.
We need help.

An announcement was posted at Edison Drive in Augusta iinviting anyone interested to contact me if they were interested in having any meetings about contract concerns. That mostly OIT building has hundreds of employees. In one DOL office I got a call immediately from a steward and a meeting was set up immediately.
That office had maybe 85 members.

Over 500 emails went to OIT employees........Can you hear the crickets? I am running for a position on the next bargaining team. I will fight for you, even you you won't, but I could use need backup.

I won't try to get a big piece of the pie for OIT if it means cheating someone else but you won't get any of the pie if you don't get in line.

Whether I am elected or not, if you don't care enough to get involved then your concerns won't make it to the table or they will be the first ones tossed.
I want to represent you in the next contract but we need help.

DOT, DOL, ADMIN, OMS, Supervisory, all have active concerned employees with clear goals.
They will be bringing those goals to the first bargaining committee meeting on June 21. They will give up Saturdays to secure a future for their families and to gain respect for the work they do.

If I yell Pro-Tech, Standby, Training, Education benefits, Federal Mileage Rate, Caseloads, will I hear an echo from an empty room?

So far, one member told me, "Sorry I have other commitments" and three fee payers damned me for sending Union Spam.

If you want anything, if you care about yourself or your family, why the hell aren't you getting involved? You can depend on legislative generosity and fair play or you can help yourself.

There is only so much to go around in any contract. If you don't ask, you don't get. That is the process. If you don't get involved it means you are happy, grinning, and grateful to the state for exactly what you get and you don't see anything wrong.


What me cynical?

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Monday, June 9, 2008

SEIU convention report

I was a delegate to the 2008 Justice for All, SEIU convention and there are at least two completely opposite views of what happened.

One view says that Union Democracy triumphed and the other claims that this is the biggest power grab in Union history since Jimmy Hoffa.

The SEIU changed its constitution in Puerto Rico. Yes, locals will be sending more money to union headquarters in D.C. Is this a power grab or will SEIU Leaders use the cash to run a campaign to elect Barack Obama president and send pro-union lawmakers to Congress?

No matter whether you think this is a power grab or the smartest move since the invention of the wheel, Union Leaders will use the money to elect a labor friendly government and pass labor friendly laws. Whether they want power or justice for all they know only a labor friendly government will allow the growth of Unions. No matter what your take on it, Andy Stern is too smart not to do exactly as he claimed. We can debate Andy's motives but his goals are the same as ours, better jobs and representation locally and in Congress.

The cash will not go to heavily unionized states because they will already be voting Democrat. The cash will move to swing states like Florida and Michigan where the extra money may make the biggest difference. Remember we have suffered eight years of George Bush for the lack of a handful of votes in Florida.

International President Andy Stern’s agenda at the 2008 convention, called “Justice for All” will consolidate bargaining and organizing efforts at the national level. This will possibly limit the power of local unions but at the same time give the union greater leverage with multi-state or international employers.

Just imagine a heavily unionized Maine, where tens of thousands of SEIU brothers and sisters would tell the legislature they needed to treat SEIU employees fairly or go home.

UHW, United Health Care West opposed Stern’s plan. That opposition grew out of a fight over whether information published on the UHW web site should have been kept to an in house fight or whether the members needed to know that there were questions about contracts being signed at the National level with little or no rank and file input.

According to UHW, Stern made secret deals with corporations, keeping members in the dark about the trade-offs he agreed to. According to Stern UHW harmed the SEIU by taking an internal argument public and was responsible for losing a huge campaign to organize nurses.

Stern claimed at the convention that his plan will decentralize union power. What Andy didn’t say was that power does not tolerate a vacuum. Where member involvement is weak the local Union leadership is forced to make decisions and the International is forced to make more decisions that should be made at the local level. If the locals do not have an involved membership decisions will be made only by the few.

Is Stern’s plan the biggest power grab in a labor union since the Teamsters? Millions of dollars will move from local Unions to SEIU headquarters in Washington, D.C. Is the plan the smartest move that could be made, using the only power politicians seem to recognize; money?

I say it is about consolidating power and it doesn't matter whether Andy Stern gains power.

This move will consolidate Union power as never before. When one man can make the same wage as 500 or a thousand or more of his employees by destroying good jobs and outsourcing American jobs we need the money to fight back and we need it in one place with two goals. Elect Democrats and hold them responsible for keeping their promises.

Justice for All is a great slogan, yet it is far more than a slogan. Without good pay, benefits, and respect for American workers the right will continue to use the few good Union jobs left as a target, blaming Unions for all the lost jobs, all the tax breaks for the rich. We need to support others if we expect to get their support in the voting booth. .

There will be massive shift union finances. Half of the SEIU budget will go to the national effort; the SEIU calls the “Accountability Project.”

The SEIU goal is to elect pro-labor members of Congress, spending money to offset the buying power of the corporations and then spend $10 million more “to take on elected officials who fail to live up to their promises.” If a politician runs on a pro-labor promise they will live up to the promise or they will feel the heat.

50 percent of the national and local organizing budgets, including half of the SEIU staff will be used for the “Accountability Project.” Accountability Project is a nice name. Another name I heard was "payback is a bit*h".

In Maine we may not see the same 50% hit in budget and staff due to our affiliation agreement, the long term good relationship with the SEIU now handled by Bruce Hodsdon as our president and International Executive Board member.

If we don’t get good politicians here and in Washington you can kiss your pay and benefits goodbye. Just this year one of our so called friends in the legislature voted down the cliff bill even though the evidence was there to show the financial impact would have been minimal.

Our so called friends took nearly thirty million dollars from our health care plan; they would love to figure out how to get their hands on our pension funds. Funds that have been far better invested than any State fund. Your delegates knew there are union members opposed to Stern’s plan and made any decision on what was best for Maine and then what was best for the rest.

A lot of members think our dues should stay at home; all decisions made locally. George Bush tried to sell port security to an Arab country. Would you put it past a politician to outsource the DMV?

There were no easy, perfect decisions. Your delegates did not agree on every vote. But be assured, no one tried to tell any of your delegates how to vote. The one complaint I heard about our President is that when asked for a decision on a vote, he suggested that the delegate study the issue and make the best decision they could for the members that elected them.

That is Union democracy.

I am not a cheerleader for Andy Stern. I would never cross the road if I saw him driving my way, but I am convinced focusing this money and power in order to hold politicians accountable is the right move.

I urge you to fill out the MSEA survey and sign up for the bargaining committee. I am continuing to run my survey and the numbers are picking up. Please have a friend fill it out after you do.
Fill out this Bargaining Survey and be heard.
Click Here to take survey Click HERE to see how other members are voting..If you have any ideas for putting together a survey for your local or your bargaining unit please contact me at Narsbars@UnionMaine.Org If you get one person to fill out this survey you will be helping yourself. Ask a friend to fill out the survey and ask them to find another friend to do the same. When the MSEA starts collecting proposals all information gathered will be given to the new teams.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Sign up Speak up

This is the email sent out by the MSEA. This is may be the only email you will get. No waste paper, no multiple emails. This is your chance, grab it.
In a new move the Union has decided to get the bargaining committee started early so we can get research done for proposals and involve more members than ever before.
We asked for early bargaining and our Union listened. Now it is time to put up or shut up.
No matter what unit you belong to, sign up for the committee, and come on the 21st. Maybe it won't be for you, maybe you can't give the time it will need, but if you come you will know and you will be able to make an informed decision.

We don't know, but in past years we have elected the first member of the negotiations team at the first meeting. That may happen this year or we might send ballots out for all four. As members of the bargaining committee, you may be making that decision. Electing these representatives will be some of the most important decisions we can make as a Union and you should jump at the chance to be part of the process.

After every contract someone says that their ideas were not heard. I ask them if they brought them up at a committee meeting or if they emailed a team member. So many times the answer is no. Sign up, Speak up, your coworkers may be depending on you to carry their message.

I will be running as a candidate to represent Pro-Tech and I hope you believe that I have represented you well in the past. If I have done a good job, let me know at the meeting on the 21st.


Dear MSEA-SEIU Member,

This is your personal invitation to serve as a member of the MSEA-SEIU Executive Branch Bargaining Committee. This Committee will review all submitted bargaining proposals and identify many of the proposals that the MSEA-SEIU Executive Branch Negotiating Team will present at the bargaining table. If you would like to serve on the MSEA-SEIU Executive Branch Bargaining Committee, please fill out the form by clicking on the link below right away. Volunteer/Registration forms are due at headquarters by June 16. You must be a dues-paying member of MSEA-SEIU to serve on the Executive Branch Bargaining Committee.

If you decide to serve on the MSEA-SEIU Executive Branch Bargaining Committee our first meeting is scheduled for:

WHERE: Calumet Club - Augusta, ME
WHEN: Saturday, June 21, 2008
TIME: 9:00AM to 3:00PM

In Solidarity,
Bruce Hodsdon, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

Link to Volunteer/Registration Form --> https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=IggftlexKp6XaRq1OAKWKQ_3d_3d

NOTE: In an effort to lower costs this is the only notification you will be receiving about this Committee and meeting. You will not be receiving a separate paper mailing since you have supplied an email address to headquarters.


I urge you to fill out the MSEA survey. I am continuing to run my survey and the numbers are picking up. Please have a friend fill it out after you do.
Fill out this Bargaining Survey and be heard.
Click Here to take survey Click HERE to see how other members are voting..If you have any ideas for putting together a survey for your local or your bargaining unit please contact me at Narsbars@UnionMaine.Org If you get one person to fill out this survey you will be helping yourself. Ask a friend to fill out the survey and ask them to find another friend to do the same. When the MSEA starts collecting proposals all information gathered will be given to the new teams.

Here is the link to the original of the picture used in this post.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

2,000,000 Members

The SEIU has reached a historic level of two million members. In Maine many MSEA members have asked why we organize outside of our origianal group, state employees. The victories in the old south where North Carolina state government is now SEIU. The raises gained in so many other locations. The reason behind these wins is because the public is beginning to wake up to find out that tearing Unions down will only guarantee low wages for all.
The SEIU is becoming a real force in politics and we can expect to start seeing results after November with passage of the Employee Free Choice Act if we don't get complacent and sit home and let the third Bush term happen. The country must become US. The votes will be with us if the public starts to share the benefits and respect of being a part of something that cares about them, not just the botttom line.

Don't forget to check your mail. A bargaining committee meeting will be held on June 21. You don't have to shout, march, and wear purple underwear. Just agree to talk to your friends at work and just maybe volunteer to be the person that your team members can get back to.
The next contract needs all the good ideas we can find.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

WLBZ goes for the gold. Drops the ball on community service.

Just because you are afraid doen't mean you don't have real enemies.
Duane Lugdon, International Representative, United Steelworkers Union is quick to spot the flaws in the arguments made by WLBZ.

This is a copy of his letter to the President and general manager of WLBZ TV out of Bangor. Ms. Horan seems to say that she would run attack ads against the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Cub Scouts, or any other organization as long as the money was good enough. It is my opinion that WLBZ has no interest in revealing the out of State money being used to attack Maine citizens as long as the station gets a cut.

Thanks for doing your part to watch out for all of us.

Dear Ms. Horan,

I want to take the time to acknowledge your reply to me regarding the letter I sent to WLBZ (attached here again for your ease in recalling its content).

I generally pride myself in trying to be a diplomatic sort of individual but there is obviously no need to belabor or prolong this interaction between us. So let me be very candid.

Unions, regardless of how various interests view them, are fraternal organizations. We exist in no different way than your local Elks Club, Knights of Columbus, Eagles Club, Masonic Lodge or the Church that you attend. Regardless of the absolute lies and innuendo that are expressed by groups like “UnionFacts.com” no one is forced to be a member of Unions since it is both impossible under the law and inadvisable in practice to force membership upon anyone. No one is forced to be a member of Unions any more than the organizations I have cited herein.

Unions are allowed however to insist that people who work in the units that we represent and who benefit from the work that we do contribute to the cost of achieving those benefits. This is nothing that Unions owe an apology for because we absolutely do provide a tangible return for the cost involved in achieving the gains we make. Verifiable statistics support my assertions in this regard if WLBZ were at all interested in researching what the American Labor Movement has achieved for America’s workers and citizenry. But it is apparent from your response that WLBZ has no interest in researching the statistical truth and would rather insure that its advertising revenue is gleaned through any mechanism available to it.

Members of the public often attend functions put on by local fraternal or religious organizations, for example the local dance sponsored by the Elks Club or the public bean supper sponsored by the Knights of Columbus or the bake sale at the Church down the street - - in doing so they are not forced to be a member of the organization but they do pay a fee which helps to defray the cost of the service that they enjoy or the products they consume. They are not told that they must come to the dance, supper or bake sale if they prefer not to. Nor are they told that they cannot dance, eat or buy brownies at other establishments if that is what they choose to do. In this paragraph you have just read a descriptive of Unions and indeed my own ethic. As I stated in my letter I do not appreciate being attacked and I do not appreciate WLBZ being an accomplice to the attack on me.

While I appreciate the response you have made to me I must conclude that you were very astute at ignoring the point of my letter. The “UnionFacts.com” spot which you call a “political issue spot” is an ATTACK spot!! Is WLBZ making the point that if an organization existed that wanted to attack the Knights of Columbus, the Elks club or the Church in the community that you would honor the airing of those kinds of attacks? No - - I hardly believe that to be the case. So let me again be very candid - - what I discern from your response is that WLBZ does not care that advertising be truthful - - just that it generates income for WLBZ. You will be quick to have me expend the resources of my organization so that I can buy your airtime to respond to the venomous ATTACKS because doing so would benefit WLBZ.

I must tell you that the sort of mentality in your response to me makes WLBZ nothing more than an accomplice in an attempt to slay the fraternal organizations we all know as “Unions”. It makes WLBZ available, in much the same way as a prostitute, to anyone who wants to pay for your services. The only difference is that, unlike WLBZ, the prostitute isn’t a party to attacking the personal character or integrity of people who are innocent of any crime. I am thus forced to conclude that WLBZ is now my proverbial enemy as opposed to the trusted media outlet that I have perceived it to be for many years. Like the “UnionFacts.com” breed of attack dog WLBZ is now party to attacking me and the members of fraternal organizations because of our beliefs and what we stand for. WLBZ cannot look in a mirror and see innocence in the constant struggle of Maine or American workers to advance their cause. WLBZ is an ADVOCATE in seeking the demise of Unions in America.

I regret the position that WLBZ has taken because it goes a long distance toward establishing that WLBZ is not worthy of the high esteem I have placed in its position in our community over the years. I don’t want to be seen as engaging in banter with you so I will now disengage from further discourse on the matter. But I am sure that you will hear from others on this matter. I only hope that WLBZ will once again return to the kind of responsible media outlet that I once thought it to be and end the attacks on the character and integrity of myself and thousands of my Brothers and Sisters.


Duane Lugdon

International Representative

United Steelworkers International Union

From: Horan, Judy [mailto:JHORAN@wlbz.gannett.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 10:33 AM
To: Lugdon, Duane F.
Cc: File2, Pub
Subject: Response regarding commercials

Dear Duane:

Thank you for contacting WLBZ 2 regarding the advertisement currently airing from "The Center for Union Facts." We always appreciate hearing from our viewers. Your email with letter attachment was forwarded to me by two of our staff.

Television is the "public square" where disparate opinions are aired literally and figuratively. Proponents of this issue know the power of the television medium to convey their message. As a company that benefits from First Amendment freedoms, we are reluctant to censor content and do so only on rare occasions. That means that some advertising messages aired on WLBZ 2 are not those supported by the station or its management. You write in your letter that Maine “… is a place where we honor each other’s right to freedom and liberty.” I agree with you, which is why these spots are airing. Defense of free speech is not dependent on whether or not I agree with the its content.

You should know that each political "issue" spot, like the one you wrote about, is reviewed before it airs. We also respond to viewers who disagree with the content or the fact that we aired it at all, as this email proves. This particular ad can be seen on various stations here in the Bangor marketplace as well. Finally, should the opposing side decide to place advertisements on our station, chances are good those ads would not be censored either - for the same reasons mentioned above.

Regardless of the point of view from which a commercial is produced, "issue" spots frequently prompt comment. We respect your opinion and thank you for sharing it.

Judy Horan
President and General Manager
329 Mt. Hope Ave.
Bangor ME 04401

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

George Bush Brings the Troops Home

If you are a Democrat you probably want to bring the troops home too, alive.
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